The Struggle is Real When it Comes to Software Development Staffing

An understaffed in-house team is one of the most common reasons for software engineering outsourcing. CompTIA, an industry trade association, conducted a survey in 2015 of almost 650 IT companies that indicates IT staffing shortages are likely to continue in the near future. The survey showed that about 20 percent of responding companies have canceled or postponed projects due to difficulties in filling technical positions. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents expected 2015 to be a challenging year for making technical hires.

Todd Thibodeaux, president of CompTIA, said, “There is more demand for technology…than ever. That makes the need for tech workers – educated, trained and certified – in demand, too.” He also noted that demand will be especially strong for professionals in project management, security and software development. Thibodeaux added, “There are a lot of companies out there that feel that if they could add new workers they could expand, or backfill positions that have been open.”

Temporary staffing shortages are relatively routine in IT. However, severe understaffing can create significant problems when it persists for a prolonged period. Recognizing the signs of an understaffed software engineering team can help you to remain as productive as possible while you look for a solution to your staffing shortage. These signs include the following:

  • High turnover
  • Lack of a long-term strategy
  • Slow service
  • New projects require extra staff
  • Many temp workers

High Turnover

A sharp increase in employee turnover while a company is expanding is a strong indication that its growth is too rapid. This situation makes employees feel overwhelmed with their duties, making them more likely to seek out other employment opportunities that are less stressful. A high turnover rate can become a fatal problem for a software company if it continues unchecked since veteran employees must be replaced with new workers who are unfamiliar with the company’s operations.

New employees require onboarding, which can be particularly significant in IT. In addition to the computers, email accounts and logins that all employees need, IT workers require access to specialized software. Terminated employees also result in the expenditure of IT resources to close email accounts and disable logins. The use of these resources can therefore cause the members of and IT department in a rapidly growing organization to become overwhelmed simply by performing routine tasks.

Rapid growth can also reduce employee morale when it causes them to take their work too seriously. These companies often neglect small gestures such as recognizing employee achievements or allowing a casual dress day – practices that cost very little, but can go a long way toward maintaining employee morale during a difficult period.

A revolving door between HR and IT is a sure sign that some work needs to be outsourced, at least while the company is growing rapidly. Outsourcing relieves the pressure of the in-house development team, leading to happier developers. In turn, the improved work environment can help attract top IT talent.

Lack of a Long-Term Strategy

A rapid increase in responsibility is a common characteristic of an understaffed development team, which can result in the loss of a long-term strategy for the organization. Employees are typically willing to perform duties outside of the formal job description for a specified period of time. However, they will tend to become unsure of their role within the organization if this situation continues indefinitely. The need to fill IT vacancies quickly can also result in the creation of an entire department overnight, complete with supervisors. An organization that suddenly has a lot of new faces in managerial roles is another indication that an organization’s engineering staff is unable to meet its needs.

A development team with adequate staffing should be able to answer questions about the company’s long-term plans for leveraging the cloud or making use of big data. An understaffed IT department will also tend to push future planning aside so that it can perform routine tasks. However, this strategy will ultimately hinder an organization’s ability to remain competitive in the long run.

Slow Service

All businesses encounter the occasional IT crisis, but major challenges in meeting user requirements shouldn’t occur every week. Lapses in service are common in understaffed organizations because employees are overworked and fail to pay attention to details. The Houston Chronicle reports that customers in these companies may file more complaints about long hold times, indicating that the organization is understaffed.

Frequent problems with potentially serious consequences send a strong signal that the IT department is unable to meet its organization’s core needs. An increase in the time needed to install equipment or to resolve a lingering issue means that the IT department needs assistance. Software engineering outsourcing can help the in-house staff focus on meeting these requirements before the problems become too large to handle.

New Projects Require Extra Staff

An understaffed company often relies on just a few providers for all of its services, instead of diversifying. This strategy allows an organization to grow more quickly since it doesn’t need to implement new business processes or contracts each time it starts a new project. However, it can also make an organization highly vulnerable to sudden changes in staffing requirements. Long-term projects tend to be particularly challenging for organizations using a monolithic outsourcing model. It may need more IT workers while the project is under development, but it can’t promise these workers long-term positions. This working environment is unfair to workers and to the organization’s own IT departments. A software development outsourcing company can provide the additional IT staff needed for the project while avoiding the pressure to retain these employees after the project is complete.

Many Temp Workers

The use of many temporary workers is also an indication of a chronically understaffed IT department. The direct cause of this situation is most likely a high turnover rate and an accompanying low morale, although it may also indicate that the organization is growing too quickly to keep pace with hiring requirements. Temporary workers are common in IT departments today since full-time staff members are frequently difficult to hire and retain. This general rule is especially true for positions requiring specific expertise, such as system analysts, developers and security specialists.




An outsourcing firm can provide its clients with the exact skill sets and experience that they need. This capability frees an organization from its dependence on temporary workers who often lack the specific qualifications the position requires or the “buy-in” dedicated employees possess.

Nearshoring is the practice of using an outsourcer in another country, but on the same continent as the client. One of the primary advantages of nearshoring is the similarity in time zones, which means that developers and managers generally have the same business hours. Nearshore software development also means that developers tend to have languages and cultures that are closer to that of the client than offshore firms located on the other side of the globe.

Tiempo Development provides Nearshore software development that specializes in agile development. This methodology is well-suited for projects requiring a high degree of collaboration between managers and developers. We easily integrate and become a valued extension of internal teams. The Time to Market is greatly decreased and the Return on Investment is greatly increased. Contact Tiempo today to find out more about what our services can do for you.

About Tiempo Development

At Tiempo, we are making the business of software development easier and more affordable with a unique combination of a nearshore business model, agile methodology, and advanced talent management. Our Development teams engineer powerful technologies that align with the goals and strategies of our customers for both their internal and public-facing development initiatives. Tiempo’s proprietary agile product-lifecycle management framework called Tiempo Quality System or TQS, is composed of principals and best practices that ensure productive client and team interactions. The result is efficient software development that enables Tiempo to support companies in launching software releases sooner – without draining important resources.

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